Product Liability -- 2018

Quisenberry v. Borgwarner Morse Tec, Inc.   (Virginia Supreme Court)

Liability for take-home exposure to asbestos

The NAM filed an amicus brief with other groups asking the Virginia Supreme Court to reject plaintiff’s attempt to greatly expand the universe of people to whom employers owe a duty of care. This issue was put before the court as a certified question on whether an employer owes a duty of care to the family member of an employee who alleges exposure to asbestos from the work clothes of the employee at a shipyard, where such exposure takes place off of the employer’s premises and the employer has no relationship with the family member.

This case is important because imposition of a duty on employers to prevent off-site exposures to asbestos (and presumably other toxic substances) would lead to potentially limitless and indefinite liability. Such a duty would substantially burden the still-solvent but increasingly remote defendants in the asbestos litigation. The litigation has already bankrupted over 100 companies. Recently, even some attenuated asbestos defendants have filed bankruptcy. A duty finding here also could open the door to lawsuits against employers over any number of hazards that workers carry off-site.

In a 4-3 decision, the Virginia Supreme Court held that the shipyard does owe a duty of care to prevent employees from carrying asbestos fibers home.

Related Documents:
NAM amicus brief  (February 23, 2018)


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